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3 1 PostClass JackYoung

Post-class Notes (3/1)
● Pre-war modernism in USA
○ No connection between social reform and the avant-garde
movements and modernism
○ Exceptions - early public housing using eminent domain,
low-rise, segregated
■ The kitchenless movement
● Housing looked at more as a commodity than a right
● Redlining and race-based housing discrimination - slums and blight
○ Home Owners loan corp - color-coded city based on house
good of an investment they were for the banks
○ There is no money sent to create improvements, cycle
● Efforts to improve tenement conditions
○ Legal requirements for construction and model tenements
● Eminent domain - a city can force a landowner to sell their property if there is
some public purpose, lead to slum clearance and replaced slums with public
● After WW2 public funds become available for urban renewal
○ City partners with developers to make a redevelopment plan and then use
the eminent domain to buy all the buildings in the location, demolish them
and then sell for a cheaper price to developers
● Some conservatives began to think government housing was unfair so more
money was used to demolish than rebuild
○ Public housing became a minimum budget for poor people and costs were
cut to create bad conditioned buildings
○ Modernist towers replaced low rises with courtyards
● Minority Yamasaki, Pruitt-Igor
○ high rise slab housing
○ Things went downhill as maintenance budget was based on tenants rent
○ Social and safety conditions went downhill and the building was
○ Myth - failed because of the architecture and high rise buildings were bad,
failed because it was public housing
● Narrative became that public housing was idealistic failure and it should be left for
the market
● Robert Moses - leading admission of urban renewal in NYC
● Urban highways - lets more people function, Moses imagined it as a city that
revolves around driving, lead to destruction of housing as they were built into the
middle of the cities (usually were low income housing)
● Jane Jacobs - celebrating density and a mix of uses at street level, opposing urban
renewal, the tiny interactions between everybody combine to create one city
Highways and Houses: Designing the Automobile Suburb
● Cars would enable a new version of self sufficient households
● Cars used to expand the range of sites
● Interstate Highway System - in and out towns easily, so can sell suburban houses
● End of streetcars - began to be eliminated and forced people to move
● Functional zoning separates industrial and residential areas, huge fields of green
trees, surrounded by detached houses for each family, automobile infrastructure
(highways etc)
● Eames House and Studio, Ray and Charles Eames
○ Very willing to block surfaces with panels
○ Steel box with a full interior
○ Modernist house as container for objects and a
relaxed lifestyle
○ Enormous expansion of consumer spending,
manufactures dont want people to buy a few
trusty items and keep
■ Companies began slightly changing
models to up consumer spending
■ The things in suburban houses are all products, suburban houses are
bought and sold to put stuff in them
● Levittown
○ Version of the postwar house becomes the model for many developers, very
very popular model for suburbia
○ Instead of expensive steel they used lightweight balloon framing of 2 x 4s
and plywood panels to create small low cost versions of cape cod houses
○ Modern in the industrialization of the building process
■ Each worker had one job and would move from house to house to do
○ Structural and financial systems in place lead to racist outcomes
● Redlining Meant most urban residents and minorities could not get loans to buy or
improve their houses
● Suburbanization was exclusionary to most nonwhite citizens and this impact
continued for a long time
● Winding curving street patterns make the developments and neighborhoods
completely dependent on cars (small worlds)
Corporate Firms, Corporate Clients, Coporate Space
● Wartime industrial boom - transition to peace time products, especially
architectural materials
● Architecture firms began to grow and grow, shows the complexity of buildings and
just a greater scale - becoming more firms than architects
● Lever House, SOM
○ SOM a large corporate firm
○ One of first wave of glass curtain wall skyscrapers
○ Versus Seagram building
■ Both Gridded surfaces appealed modern corporation
■ Both Clients saw as efficient, rational, high tech
■ Dependent on fossil fuel energy
■ Seagram is more classical and symmetrical
■ Mies does famous details on the corner and ornamental
bronze pieces to revel deeper structural and adds shadows and
reliefs to the facades to look thicker - Mies is more classical
■ Seagram is glass with a golden color
■ Lever is much more smooth and light, lighter green tinted
glass, thin flat shiny steel mullions to make flash
■ Capitol at the top of both buildings
● TWA Flight Center
○ Architecture for the growing jet-set
○ Wanted to express the drama and excitement of travel
○ At the time of construction, low level people began to using jets now architecture make people feel like their rich
■ About the image of flying and the feeling of movement
■ Reinforced concrete - sculptured, smooth curvy, and tiled
○ Form suggests bird in flight or plane taking off
○ Structural rationalism vs structural expressionism
○ You feel rich and cool as you walk through it
● Executives were the first people to own cars and move to the suburbs’